President Dr. Irfaan Ali announced this morning during the opening of the XII Annual Consultation with Caribbean Governors of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB)— the new ferry service connecting Guyana, Barbados, and Trinidad and Tobago (T&T) has been given the green light, with the inaugural journey of the vessel expected within the next three months.

While delivering his address, Dr. Ali expressed his hope for an even earlier operational start than expected, aiming for “another two/three months.”

This initiative reflects a proactive response to challenges identified by CARICOM Heads of Government in achieving the regional objective outlined in the 25 by 2025 Initiative at its recent meeting at the Ministry of Public Works in Trinidad. This initiative aims to reduce the regional food-import bill by 25 percent by 2025. One of the key challenges identified during the meeting was the difficulty in transporting agricultural goods and people within the region. It is within this context that the meeting was organized.

During the meeting, each country’s position and perspective on this issue were highlighted, with ministers emphasizing their commitment to implementing the transportation system while promoting regional food security without compromising public health, security, and safety.

The meeting also saw discussions on the formation of a company comprising directors from each country to drive the introduction of the regional ferry service. Additionally, an inspection of the Galleon Passage in Port of Spain was conducted by ministers and technical officials, with discussions focusing on other important aspects such as plant quarantine, including sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) matters, immigration, and customs for trade.

A system for pre-clearance was proposed for implementation, with Heads of Customs, Immigration, and Plant Quarantine from Guyana, Barbados, and Trinidad & Tobago agreeing that most systems were already in place and could be adjusted to accommodate this. This commitment builds on the existing Guyana and Suriname Ferry Service arrangement, endorsed by the President of Guyana and the Prime Ministers of Barbados and Trinidad & Tobago.

Furthermore, it was agreed that a team of technical officials from Trinidad & Tobago would visit Guyana and Barbados within the next two weeks to inspect port infrastructure and assess their readiness to accommodate the proposed ferry service. This collaborative effort marks a significant step forward in enhancing regional connectivity and trade facilitation among the Caribbean nations.


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